Avexing of diminutive slider size. A product of gender bias, culinary conundrum revolves around A&W’s sizing scheme for its hamburgers. It was easy enough to figure out the Baby Burger’s place in the pecking order, as it was the Mama Burger was larger, but it was overshadowed by the two male burgers, the most problematic of the lot. These two sandwiches, dubbed the Teen and the Papa Burger, raised the edible, or perhaps Oedipal, question of which was the larger symbol of alpha maleness, a question that remained unresolved for much of my youth.
Fortunately such thorny inquiries don’t come up at Lafayette’s Tutti, which differentiates itself by offering most dishes in three distinct sizes. These consist of small sampler plates, medium-sized entrée servings, and platter helpings for sharing. True to the restaurant’s name, the expansive menu also has something for everyone, including Caesar salads, burgers, tapas-style small plates and entrees like filet mignon.
Situated on South Public Road, this hospitable split-level eatery consists of two distinct sections. The street level features a tastefully casual dining room set off by dark, earthy colors. Downstairs, there’s a bar and dining area adjoining an enclosed Plexiglas play area for youngsters, stocked with toys and video games. Once you get past the Sheryl Crow rock video vibe of the play area, you realize it’s a brilliant idea, as Mom and Dad can enjoy an adult meal while the kiddies entertain themselves.
Kicking off a shared-plate supper with friends, I ordered $2 happy hour portions of fried potato balls with cheese and classic macaroni and cheese. A smattering of these upscale tater tots provided a fine melding of crunch and cream. While the comforting pasta didn’t have much in the way of superfluous adornment, it surpassed more expensive versions with spot-on richness and balanced seasoning.
A $13 platter of Asian-influenced sesame ginger chicken wings paired with intriguing wasabi ranch dressing put classic Buffalo wings to shame. The taste of the wings was pleasantly subtle compared to overwhelmingly vinegary wings, and it had a lighter texture than some heavy-handed interpretations of sesame-coated poultry. Not Asian influenced, a medium bowl of $13.50 Drunken chicken tended more towards Mediterranean cuisine with rum, white wine and olive scents atop mashed potato. This composition was vaguely reminiscent of a chicken Marsala, which isn’t a bad thing, although the thigh meat texture was tender in some instances, fibrous in others.
Happily, our medium helping of $16 seared scallops suffered from no textural concerns. These skillfully prepared seafood morsels featured a whisper of char on the exterior and a velvety interior possessing sparkling fresh flavor. The side of first-rate butternut squash risotto provided a suitably suave accompaniment.
For dessert, the $6.50 bread pudding was enjoyably moist and infused with maple. Less tempting was the $7.50 carrot and cheesecake tower, which married fine cheesecake with an overly dry carrot portion. The minty $6 grasshopper pie, despite its Miami Vice pastel appearance, was the clear winner, with pleasing mouth-feel and satisfying chocolate accents.
Portion-sized options, menu variety and family-friendly seating choices add up to a worthy and reasonably priced dining experience at Tutti. While a few items could benefit from slight adjustment, it’s a hospitable venue also happily free of such vexing conundrums as those posed by A&W’s burger sizing schema.
Tutti 103 South Public Rd. Lafayette 720-746-9649
Clay’s Obscurity Corner
All in the family
Alas, American A&Ws have done away with the burger family with the exception of the Papa option. The other sandwiches have been cashiered in favor of more generic nomenclature such as “bacon cheeseburger.” However, Canadian A&Ws have retained the burger family and have even added new relatives. In terms of caloric content, the patriarch of the burger family is the Grandpa, followed by the Papa, the never available in the U.S. Uncle, the Teen, the Mama and the Baby. Interestingly enough, some U.S. A&Ws still feature statues of the burger family members, who resemble Bob’s Big Boy’s less detailed cousins.